Review by Andy Uzzell, originally published in Dayz of Purple and Orange
To say that Fuzz Club have not had a bad year is the very definition of litotes; they have released a slew of frankly outstanding albums (10,000 Russos, Sonic Jesus, Radar Men From The Moon, Singapore Sling....and many others), not to mention one of the compilations of the year (Reverb Conspiracy Vol 3) and topped it all off with a 2 day extravaganza of a festival.
I'll admit, Throw Down Bones were new to me, a name I had heard bandied around but had not heard any of their material, and having decided to only attend the 2nd night of the Fuzz Club festival I missed out on seeing them live. So when the press release for the album came through and I read words like 'coldwave' and 'industrial' my heart sank a little bit (not that I dislike either 'genre'...just wanted more of what had preceeded....lashings of fuzz, hazy 'walls of sound' etc). Cue an epiphany bordering on Road to Damascus proportions.
Throw Down Bones are Frankie Frankie and Dave Cocks, and apparently they are Fuzz Club's most listened to acts on iTunes, no mean feat. They describe their music as "Noise Militia Amnesia haze kraut philosophal drone" which raised my optimism a tad....and then I listened to the album....
The album opens with 'Exposure' and its Joy Division bass line and layers upon dense layers of sound. It's this bass line and the metronomic drums that anchor the track and provides a platform for some simple but effective synth lines, all coming together to form an intense experimental workout. 'Our Home, The Holy Mountain' has a more krautrock feel about it, traces of Neu! are audible in its motorik rhythms and beguiling, hypnagogic drones.
'A Premise To Action' is, on the face of it, a doleful, melancholic piece of music, with the bass providing a simple melody, but if you listen (and this is an album that deserves to be listened to, not just put on in the background) there are flashes of dissonance and noise that work almost on the subliminal level to raise the track from an exercise in maudlin electronics into an atmospheric and fascinating track that put me in mind of some of Coil's more 'user friendly' moments.
'Inner Lights' is another krautrock based number; the motorik rhythm is incessant and irresistable. As the track progresses more and more layers appear...each sound applied like brushstrokes on a masterpiece. Next up is 'Emitters', opening with a brisk drum beat and bass. It has the almost post-punk feel of, say, Gang Of Four or Wire, and again one can imagine Peter Hook knocking out that bass line, bass slung low and legs akimbo. Easily my fave track on the album.
'Saturator' is built on repetition and layers, growing like a skyscraper, storey upon storey. By the end of the track it is huge! The longest track on the album, 'Bones', has an electronic space rock feel to it; echo-laden washes of sound and a driving rhythm bring the Hawkwind ethos bang up to date. It has a 'kitchen sink' feel to it, but in a skillful manner, the duo using every device and nuance available to them. Scratch what I said earlier...this is my fave track on the album. Things are brought to a conclusion by 'It's All Around Us', with it's Ozric Tentacles-like new age vibe...a bubbling heartbeat over some lush drones and rounds off the album on a warm and optimistic note.
Despite my earlier reservations, Throw Down Bones fit perfectly on the Fuzz Club roster....there may not be the aforementioned 'walls of sound', but the atmosphere they invoke, and the glacial 'gothness' fit the label to a T. It is an album of consumate cool and sophistication, built with craft and an unswerving eye for prefection. The individual elements of the Throw Down Bones' sound may not be unique (the motorik rhythms of krautrock, the spikyness of post punk and the 'Hooky' bass lines) but the way they have been put together is masterful and has resulted in an album that is a thing of joy to behold. I just wish I had gone to both nights of the Fuzz Club festival to catch them live!
Review by Andy Uzzell, originally published in Days of Purple and Orange
Singapore Sling are a bit of a legend in psych circles, pre-empting the current explosion in all things fuzzy by some years. Formed in Iceland in 2000, the band have released some 7 albums prior to Psych Fuck, the last three of which have been on Fuzz Club, that bastion of fuzzy goodness.
I first became aware of the band when they contributed a track to a tribute album to The Monks ('I Hate You' on the Silver Monk Time: A Tribute to The Monks), a coruscating reworking of the garage punk legends. Psych Fuck is split into two sides, named, somewhat unsurprisingly, 'Psych' and 'Fuck', and is a dark trip into the noir side of life.
The 'Psych' side opens with 'Dive In', a cover of fellow Icelanders Quarashi, and straight away we are thrown into the throbbing abyss of a Suicide rhythm and ringing garage punk guitars, the twin vocals of founder Henrik Björnsson and his sister Anna portraying dread-laden ennui.
'Let It Roll, Let It Rise' has the menace of gothabilly legends Deadbolt and the fuzzed out vocals of The Jesus And Mary Chain; it swaggers, rolls and rises. ‘ÆJL’ comes on like a neo-psych version of The Litter's 'Action Woman', demanding action and satisfaction, and it certainly gives satisfaction! The addition of some organ gives the track a more melodic aspect.
'Na Na Now' has more than a touch of the Velvets; Henrik's vocals even have the same timbre as Lou Reed and the same laconic introspection. 'Try' channels the band's inner Sisters Of Mercy, the guitars could have come directly from the Sisters' Reptile House EP and the vocals have the same menacing depth and tone. 'The Underground' sees a twist in the psych tail; a bucolic trip to the old west, the trotting rhythm accompanied by pseudo countrified guitar, but it works!
The 'Fuck' side opens with 'Dying Alive' with Henrik once again joined by Anna on vocals, the twin vocals sometimes discordant, sometimes in perfect harmony, all over the top of an electronic motorik rhythm. 'Give Me Some Other' is lyrically simple but sometimes less is more eh? The music is driven by a Dick Dale guitar and jaunty percussion.
'Glitter' is a glorious gallimaufry of noise and sound; the crashing drums, ringing guitars and fuzzed out vocals all make for a wonderful 'wall of sound' straight out of Phil Spector's nightmares. 'Astronaut' is a childhood dream soundtracked by JAMC; it's the nearest this album comes to 'happy'. 'Shithole Town' is an understated paean to urban love. Once again, a comparison to the Velvets is inevitable but this time the slower, more introspective side to the VU.
The album is brought to a close by 'The Tower Of Foronicity' (also the name of the last album.) The intro is reminiscent of 'The Spirit of the Sky' and the track provides a musically optimistic and lyrically pessimistic finale; " When you think you're at the top, you're already at the bottom". The jauntiness of the shimmering guitar and sparkling percussion belying the inevitability and inconsequence of existence.
Certainly in 2015, Fuzz Club have not put a foot wrong; every release has been of the highest quality and this album is no different. 'Psych Fuck' has an artful chiaroscuro about it, much the same as the Iceland of the band's origin; the beauty of the landscape in stark contrast to the long, cold nights. It is an album of shimmering beauty and texture and has shape and flow. Another Fuzz Club release that will figure highly on the inevitable 'End of Year' lists, and rightly so. 'Psych Fuck' is available from the Fuzz Club store - the deluxe edition of the LP is sold out but the CD and regular vinyl are still available.